A Bicentennial Birth:
In 1976, I was about to turn 10 years old my Mom informed me and my sisters that she was going to have another baby. I was pretty excited about having another sibling and since I had 3 sisters already, I was really hoping for a brother. My 3 sisters at the time wanted another girl and I think that they teased me a bit about Mom having another girl. I use to get pretty upset and would lash out at my sisters from time to time and when they teased me about having another sister, my response was no different. The pregnancy for my Mom was a difficult one and I remember that she was sick a lot and it turned out that she was not only pregnant, she was also dealing with a failing gallbladder. I cannot imagine how much pain my Mother was in and since she was pregnant throughout the summer months, I believe that she was suffering even more. I do remember how excited we all were when my Mom went into labor and was taken to the hospital. I also clearly remember praying “really hard” to have Mom come home from the hospital with a boy. Well, I now realize that praying in that way did not work as my Mom and Dad came home from the hospital in early November with a baby girl and my 4th sister. It didn’t matter to me when I saw her!
When my sister started to grow she began to take an interest in sports and it was nice to be around someone else in the family who knew some of the players and could talk about the game of baseball. As I grew into my high school years and was playing baseball as much as I could, I made the decision to join the Navy and knew that I would be leaving shortly after I graduated from high school in the summer of 1984. My youngest sister and I spent some time as she was growing up playing some baseball in our backyard and when I left for the Navy she continued to play softball. During the time when I was in the Navy our favorite baseball team the Pirates, were getting good and I was excited to see them playing so well. My sister was also enjoying the Pirates and for a completely different reason. She was following the team and in particular, one player. As it turns out, she really wasn’t interested in whether the team won or lost (at least no where as much as I was), she was interested in the center fielder because, “he was cute!” That was fine by me and I tried my best to listen to her and to feed her admiration of this player. I even went as far as buying her some items that were specific to the player that she thought was cute.
Watching her play:
When I joined the Navy and left home my sister was just turning 8 and when I moved away after I got out of the Navy, I stayed in touch with her and continued to talk with her about how she was doing in her sports and in school. One of the great joys that I was able to experience was watching her play. After settling in a different state and getting started on a family of my own, I returned back to the Pittsburgh area one summer and was able to watch my sister play some softball in a recreational league. She played catcher and was quite good at it and I saw a smile on her face which said to me that she was enjoying being on the field. I think that while I was watching her play in her game that I was reminiscing back to my youth and to the times that I was on the baseball field and enjoying myself. I also thought about the times when I invited my sisters to join me for a baseball game in the backyard or played catch with my youngest sister. Having 4 sisters was pretty awesome now that I reflect upon my youth and even now! I see how strong and filled with drive and passion they are and I marvel at how they are able to enjoy life and constantly work at being better each day and at teaching their kids about how to make good decisions and how to focus on what is right and just. The game of baseball helped me to get close to my youngest sister and as I grew older, I realized that she was not a “tom boy”, she was someone who enjoyed opportunities to stay active and learn about life through sports. To this day she follows athletes who she finds cute and we have a laugh about that! She has also raised an amazing young man whom I adore and miss tremendously!! I recently found out that she had kept some of the things that I gave to her when she was growing up. The center fielder who she thought was cute on my favorite baseball team, she still has memorabilia depicting him and some is even in its original packaging. I guess some things are preserved for nostalgia and some things are preserved because they have value and some things are saved because someone finds them “cute’!